Fungal Biodiversity From Soil Samples at Buffelskloof Nature Reserve in South Africa
Hazal Kandemir* and Pedro Crous
Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Uppsalalaan 8, 3584 CT Utrecht, The Netherlands
Fungi are the second most abundant organisms isolated from topsoil. Nevertheless, of the millions of fungi estimated to exist, only about 75,000 distinct species have been identified from soil. In this study, an overview of the fungal diversity including potentially novel species isolated from soil samples collected at the Buffelskloof Nature Reserve (BNR) is provided. Soil samples were collected from different locations in the BNR from the higher grassland to the lower riverbed to compare the transition in fungal diversity along the altitude gradient. Fungal cultures were obtained via the dilution to extinction protocol. Preliminary identification of the isolates was done by amplification of the ITS and LSU regions, followed by secondary DNA barcodes depending on the fungal genus. A total of 63 different genera of Ascomycetes were identified among 484 isolates obtained from 24 soil samples. In the grassland soil samples Penicillium spp. were the most abundant (53%), followed by Mortierella spp., Umbelopsis spp., and Trichoderma spp. In contrast, riverbed soil samples were dominated by Penicillium spp., followed by Cladosporium spp., Mortierella spp., and Clonostachys spp. A higher fungal diversity was observed from the grassland compared to the riverbed samples. Additionally, about 3% of the isolates are considered as potentially novel species. Current findings suggest that there is a correlation between altitude and soil fungal diversity in the BNR, which could be linked to plant diversity. DNA metabarcoding will be performed in the next step to obtain the overall fungal diversity compared to that obtained via cultivation practices.